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Goh Eun and Haruki

Posted October. 12, 2013 02:27,   


Reporters and outside broadcast vans from broadcasters flocked en masse from daytime Thursday in front of the residence of poet Goh Eun, who moved to Suwon City, Gyeonggi Province earlier this year. They went to the site because this year’s Nobel laureate in literature was scheduled to be announced at 8 p.m. on the day. Reporters were in chaotic mood as they held debate over the odds for the Korean poet to win the prize, while there was reportedly little sign of people moving inside the home. When the time for announcement drew near, the mood of tension escalated. All outside broadcast vehicles lit up in unison, and broadcast reporters stood in front of the gate, holding up their microphones to report.

At last, the Swedish Academy announced that it picked Canadian writer Alice Monroe as this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize in literature. At the moment, broadcast vehicles and reporters instantly pulled out en masse. This is an image that has been repeatedly displayed at poet Goh’s residence on the second Thursday in October every year. Goh, who has been considered a candidate of Nobel laureate in literature since the early 2000s, will have to wait until next year for another chance.

Korea was not the only country that had regret. Japan also has openly expressed disappointment, when its big name novelist Haruki Murakami, who was cited as one of leading candidates for the prize, failed to clinch the honor. As the British gambling site Ladbrokes predicted Murakami stood the highest chance to win the prize this year among the contenders, fans of the famed Japanese novelist has reportedly been disappointed all the more. An economic commentator estimated Haruki-nomics (estimated economic benefit that Haruki’s winning the prize will bring about) at 10 billion yen (100 million U.S. dollars), but this cherished dream has gone up in smoke. A large bookstore in Shinjuku, Tokyo, placed a banner reading “Nobel laureate in literature to be announced soon,” and replaced it with “We will continue rooting (for Haruki),” soon after the announcement of the winner. Perhaps because expectations ran too high, the online edition of the Sankei Shimbun carried an inaccurate report suggesting that Haruki had been named the winner on Thursday.

When he published a collection of poems commemorating the 50th anniversary of his literary activities in 2008, poet Goh made this pledge: The second half of my life will likely be another stormy period, rather than remaining a period to conclude the first half. As the poet put it, he has never stayed complacent, and instead fiercely continues creative efforts to write literary work every day. Goh said, “The noblest name in the world is ‘poet’ and I have been striving to keep this name throughout my life.” Irrespective of whether he has become a winner of the Nobel Prize, he is a poet who has maintained the noblest and glorious name in the world.”

Editorial Writer Koh Mi-seok (mskoh119@donga.com)